Journal Article

Cost of inbreeding in resistance to herbivores in <i>Datura stramonium</i>

Rafael Bello-Bedoy and Juan Núñez-Farfán

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 5, pages 747-753
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Cost of inbreeding in resistance to herbivores in Datura stramonium

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Experiments show that inbred progenies are frequently more damaged by herbivores than outcrossed progenies, suggesting that selfing is costly when herbivores are present and can increase the magnitude of inbreeding depression in survival and reproductive components of fitness. The present study assesses whether inbreeding increases herbivory and estimates the magnitude of inbreeding depression on reproductive components of fitness in the annual plant Datura stramonium.


Two experiments were performed under natural conditions of herbivory to assess the effect of inbreeding on plant damage in D. stramonium. In the first experiment, outcrossed progeny was generated using foreign pollen donors, whereas inbred progeny was produced by self-pollination. In both groups, survival, herbivore damage and reproductive components of fitness were measured. In the second experiment, inbred and outcrossed progenies were produced using only local pollen donors, and only damage by herbivores was measured.

Key Results

Despite yearly variation in damage caused by the same specialist herbivores, inbred progeny suffered consistently more damage than outcrossed progeny. There was a significant inbreeding depression for fruit number (δ = 0·3), seed number per fruit (δ = 0·19) and seed number per plant (δ = 0·43). Furthermore, significant genetic variation amongst families in the magnitude of inbreeding depression was observed.


The results suggest that the plant's mating system modified the pattern of herbivory by specialist insects in D. stramonium. Inbred plants suffer not only from the genetic cost of low vigour but also from greater damage by herbivores. The mechanism by which inbreeding reduces plant resistance to herbivores remains unknown but is an interesting area for future research.

Keywords: Inbreeding depression; mating system; plant defence; total resistance; herbivores; Datura stramonium

Journal Article.  4707 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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